KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency arrested on Monday Iqbal Dawood Pakwala, a minister in the Sindh caretaker government, in connection with a multi-billion scam in the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution.
The Supreme Court had ordered the FIA last week to complete investigation into the scam in 10 days without any consideration for rank, position or political clout of an accused.
FIA’s Sindh director Mohammed Malik told Dawn that Mr Pakwala had been arrested from Karachi. “He served as Sindh minister in the caretaker set-up before the recent general elections. His arrest is a significant development in overall investigation of the case that will lead to more breakthroughs.”
A well-known businessman, Mr Pakwala was elected president of the Sukkur Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was a director of the investment board of the EOBI, Mr Malik said.
“Before the latest arrest, director general investment Wahid Khurshid and retired Colonel Ali Hassan Mirza and his daughter Maham Majeed, both EOBI officers, had been arrested,” he said.
Mr Malik said the FIA had also seized properties, including plots and luxury cars, cash and bank accounts (valued at Rs500 million) belonging to the accused. “Things are moving forward very fast. We are very much confident about achieving the required results after multiple arrests.”
He said: “Investigations are under way and officers are making every effort to unearth all facts. We keep the Supreme Court abreast with all developments.” He added that it was a ‘huge case’ involving billions of rupees and the investigation would take time to be completed.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had taken notice of media reports about the scam concerning investments made by the EOBI in the private sector without approval of its board of trustees.
According to the reports, large investments were made in DHA schemes, Crown Plaza was purchased in Islamabad, two 4,300cc Prado cars were bought for personal use of EOBI officers, two controversial plots were purchased in Sukkur, investment was made to develop a cricket ground in Islamabad, seven plots were bought from the CDA, 40 kanals and 16 marlas of land were purchased in Lahore, four floors of Plaza Hotel were purchased in Lahore, investment was made for construction of a seven-star hotel in front of the Lahore airport, M-9 Motorway was constructed and a Rs200m land was purchased near the Karachi airport.